Burkina Faso Farmers Working Together for a Better Future

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Burkina Faso Farmers Working Together for a Better Future

Smallholder farmers from the Sahelian part of Burkina Faso are becoming increasingly vulnerable to climate change. Rising temperatures are accelerating desertification which in turn contributes to reduced soil fertility, and negatively affects food security and smallholder livelihoods.

Between 2005 and 2013, IFAD's Sustainable Rural Development Programme (Programme de Développement Rural Durable – PDRD), tackled these issues. The programme uses traditional adaptation practices from local farmers and combines them with new techniques.

These practices and techniques include half-moons, zaï and stone lines.

Half-moons are crescent shaped basins dug in the hardened ground and enriched with organic manure, improving the texture of the soil and its fertility (soil is more aerated). If constructed before the first rains, half-moons capture and slow down runoff water which reduces erosion and maintains humidity in the soil around the half-moon.

Figure 1 - Ali Ouedraogo (left), volunteer farmer from the PDRD and his neighbours posing with the tools required to prepare the half--moons

Zaï are planting pits dug in the soil to catch water. To boost the efficiency of zaïand the half-moon basins stone lines can be added. These are stones arranged along contour lines in the upper part of the field which slow down runoff water, increasing infiltration into the soil and capturing essential sediments.

The preservation of young trees also helps maintain soil fertility, increase water retention and provide shadow, wood and high value added tree products.

As a result, arable land was rehabilitated (62,844 Ha) reversing extreme soil degradation, increasing arable land surface, boosting crop yields and improving food security.

Ali Ouedraogo (figure 1) is a smallholder who attended the farmer field school of Zongbèba, Arbollé. He benefitted from trainings on land rehabilitation techniques from PDRD. He owns a 1 Ha field, in which he now uses half-moons, zaï, and organic fertilizer.

Ali and other farmers are key to the programme's success and sustainability as they share knowledge with each other. Ali is regularly contacted by other local farmers who want to learn more about these techniques. Consequently he now trains groups of twenty people regularly.